The Premier League marks its return from a winter hiatus with a healthy set of fixtures on every English football fan’s favourite day on the calendar.
Festive football has been entrenched in British culture for decades. While the rest of Europe put their feet up and wait for the new year to roll around, the Premier League ploughs right through the bleak mid-winter and offers a jam-packed schedule for football lovers.
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However, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 21st century that a full Boxing Day schedule was introduced to the calendar. Throughout the 90s, games were often played on Christmas with only the odd fixture falling the day after. Since 2000, though, Boxing Day has been where it’s at in regards to Premier League football.
Here are the highest-scoring Boxing Days in Premier League history.
Our list begins with the 20-goal haul of 2010 as seven games were played on Boxing Day.
There were little by way of classics, but every contest featured at least two goals while just three of the 14 teams failed to get on the scoresheet.
2016 was Pep Guardiola’s first experience of Boxing Day football as Manchester City boss and he oversaw a 3-0 victory over Hull City in the evening kick-off.
City’s three strikes took the day’s tally up to 21 with 2016’s contests averaging 2.625 goals each.
2004 and 2006 share eighth spot with 22 Boxing Day goals.
2004 was saved by Liverpool’s 5-0 thumping of West Brom and Blackburn’s 2-2 draw with Newcastle as nine of 20 teams failed to score. It wasn’t all that much better two years later, to be honest, but there was one less game.
Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Reading at the start of the day was the standout encounter.
A bad day to be a Gooner or a Red Devil.
Stoke City stunned Manchester United 2-0 in the early kick-off before Southampton rounded off a fairly mediocre day of football by battering Arsenal 4-0 at St. Mary’s.
Anyone remember Cuco Martina’s piledriver from distance? Whatever happened to him?
While Boxing Day 2001 sneaks into sixth place, it’s worth noting that fans were treated to a full complement of Premier League fixtures. As a result, the ten games averaged just 2.4 goals each.
It was a day for one-sided encounters, too: six of the games were decided by two or more goals.
2008 and 2012 each boasted 25 goals but the latter should be held in slightly higher regard as only nine fixtures were played. There was a complete round in 2008.
Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at Villa Park was an excellent Boxing Day fixture between two sides gunning for Europe in 2008/09, while 2012 was dominated by Manchester United’s 4-3 triumph over Newcastle.
Okay, now we’re getting into the good stuff. 2014 was a mightily competitive Boxing Day as we saw no stalemates and no games boast more than four goals. Three contests did end 3-1, however.
16 of the 20 competing teams found the back of the net, too.
2021 has to be regarded as the best Boxing Day in Premier League history. What a barrel of laughs this was: six games, 28 goals. That’s 4.6 goals a game!
Brighton’s 2-0 victory over Brentford proved to be the tamest of the bunch as Leicester were beaten 6-3 by Man City, Arsenal thumped Norwich 5-0, and Southampton outlasted West Ham 3-2 at the London Stadium.
This haul was matched 16 years prior in 2005, but this Boxing Day iteration didn’t quite possess the same frills and spills. Although, Wigan’s 4-3 victory over Man City was a vintage festive classic. There was also a rare competitive west London derby as Fulham ran Chelsea close in a 3-2 defeat.
29 seems to be the number when it comes to Boxing Day goal hauls as 2000, 2007, 2013, 2017 and 2018 each hit that figure.
2000 was the very first full round of Boxing Day fixtures and it would turn out to be one of the most entertaining in the competition’s history.
2007 possessed the eight-goal thriller between Chelsea and Aston Villa which may well be the greatest Boxing Day game ever: a ton of goals, three red cards and late drama. What more do you want from a festive fixture?
A top-of the-table clash between Man City and Liverpool wrapped up proceedings in 2013, while 2017 boasts the best goals-per-game ratio of the lot (3.625).
Here we are then, the crème de la crème of Boxing Day football.
Premier League lovers were treated to goal fests in back-to-back years as 31 goals were scored in both 2002 and 2003.
The former did include a stalemate, but these were the only two teams that failed to score as Bolton beat Newcastle 4-3 in the day’s standout fixture.
There were a couple more that didn’t hit the target in 2003 (four in total), but the high-scoring clashes between Charlton and Chelsea (4-2) and Manchester United and Everton (3-2) helped bring the day’s goal tally up to an impressive 31.